At the entrance to the Weinberg Memorial Library in the heart of The University of Scranton campus, one encounters a quote from today’s reading from the Gospel of John. It reads, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (8:32).
In a sense, a liberal arts education from a Jesuit and Catholic university such as mine seeks to provide students with an education that liberates. A core curriculum introduces students to a wide range of courses across the different academic disciplines to help them find their vocation and discern how they might best serve their fellow citizens.
The liberal arts model of education, as well as reason, expertise, science, and the existence of facts, is under attack today by those who reject the emancipatory power of a liberal arts education.
However, while there is a great deal of truth that students can uncover with the assistance of the university’s library, today’s Gospel reading encourages us all to seek higher truth, the truth that Jesus offers through his teachings and his life. Jesus calls us, his students, to obey and act upon his teachings. In doing so, the truth that Jesus the teacher offers will set us free from the bondage of sin. That is liberation.
- How am I a slave to sin?
- When have I sought answers in the library when I should have searched for answers in Jesus’ teachings?
- When have I chosen ignorance over knowledge or education? Why? And what were the results?
- In what ways have I failed to recognize that Jesus is the ultimate truth and that his teachings are what will liberate me from the bondage of sin?
Mike Allison is associate professor and chair of Political Science and coordinator of Education for Justice at The University of Scranton in Northeastern Pennsylvania. He graduated from Regis High School in New York City and Fairfield University in Connecticut, before receiving his master’s degree and PhD in political science from Florida State University. His teaching and research interests include the comparative study of civil war and civil war resolution, particularly as it relates to the transformation of armed opposition groups into political parties in Latin America.